Posted by: derekchad | June 5, 2011

The silly and the somber

It’s 9:15 PM, and my tentmate and I are zipped into our tent. The rain that threatened today’s ride has started coming down, I hope we’re able to stay dry.


I’ve had some time to reflect on the seeming incongruousness of the silly and the somber that is ALC. For instance, today’s rest stop themes included Christmas at Rest Stop 3, complete with a Santa whose lap I got to sit on. Rest Stop 4 (usually the best and most creative themes) were lumberjacks today. I also saw a whole team dressed as Dolly Parton, two lobsters cheering me up a hill, and a snowman riding out of Opening Ceremonies. Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine, and when your legs ache, something silly is the only thing that can take your mind off of it.


But ALC exists for a very serious reason, and we are constantly reminded of that. Today is the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS, and the lunch stop included a walkable timeline of the AIDS epidemic. I also experienced a very somber moment today when I stopped to talk with a woman, standing by herself at the edge of Santa Cruz, holding a sign with a picture of a man who died in 1996 at the age of 46. She’s has been coming out with the sign every year for ten years to thank riders for riding to fight the disease that took her brother’s life, but this is the first year that I’ve stopped to talk to her. “This is the most important day of my whole year”, she said, adding, “It’s an outlet for my emotions and grief”. My brief chat with her was a poignant reminder that ALC is more than a fundraiser; for many of the small California towns that we ride through, it’s the only chance to have a conversation about AIDS and the lives that have been lost.



  1. that’s such a touching story! how awesome of her to come out every year. i’m glad you stopped.

  2. Thanks Derek! Can’t wait to read more.

  3. Thanks for this update, Derek. A few years back, we stopped to talk to Stephanie about her brother. She wasn’t there when we rode in to Santa Cruz this year (she must have already packed up and moved on). I’m glad to hear she’s okay.

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